About Me

Hi there – and how utterly charming to meet with you!

My name is Tanya Marlow, and I’m channelling my inner Jane Austen as I invite you to sit with me, take a sip of your favourite hot beverage, and get to know a little about me.

 

 

tanya profile pic 2016

© Tanya Marlow – Profile Picture

Bio in brief: 

Tanya Marlow is a writer, author, campaigner and broadcaster. Formerly a lecturer in biblical theology, with a decade of experience in Christian ministry, she has been published by The Spectator, Relevant, Premier Christianity magazine and others. She admits to a weakness for karaoke, sunny days and laughing at her own jokes. You can find her in a vicarage in Devon, England with her husband and bouncy son, or writing honestly about finding God in hard places and the messy edges of life at www.tanyamarlow.com.

She is co-author of Soul Bareed. Cara Sexton (IVP USA, 2016) alongside Seth Haines, Sarah Bessey, Emily P Freeman and more. Her first book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty (2015), intertwines her own story with the biblical book of Ruth, offering a path back to God after disappointment and loss. (Get it for FREE here).

tanya profile pic garden

What do I write about?

My writing covers a whole host of topics, but mainly circles around the spirituality of suffering:

  • How do we relate to God when hard times come?
  • What if God doesn’t feel near?
  • Where can God be found?
  • What if we are plagued with doubt?
  • How does it really feel to have chronic illness?
  • Where does the church fit in?
  • What if we find ourselves in a wilderness or limbo state?

I have a background in theology and ministry, but I like to tackle these topics creatively, interweaving story and metaphor with spiritual truth, so that the truth comes alongside rather than KER-BLAM in your face. I love exploring the Bible so it gets under your skin, ministers to your spirit, and leads you to Jesus.

I believe that vulnerability is a way to unlock courage in other people, so I write honestly about my life and weaknesses.

I dabble in feisty social justice, especially M.E. advocacy, rights for disabled people, and feminism.

This is a space for people who feel like they don’t belong. It is a place for doubters, lamenters, broken, disappointed, wobbly or lost – those who have seen the muck and of life and somehow still seek gold therein. This blog is for cynics and hopers, word-lovers and God-seekers. (I also habitually recommend good books and am occasionally hilariously funny*.) You are welcome here, and I’d love to get to know you more.

*honestly, I am.

More About Me

Published books Tanya Collage

Author, Writer, Broadcaster, Campaigner:

tanya marlow feisty pic

  • I am the founder of Compassionate Britain, a grassroots campaigning organisation that unites Christians to speak up for disabled people against the government cuts affecting their essential support. I also campaign for better treatment and funding for M.E. patients with ME Action Network.  

Birthday Trip out of the house

Background: 

  • I was formerly a lecturer in Biblical Theology, and Associate Director for a homiletics training course (accredited by St Mark and St John University, Plymouth, UK).
  • I have had ten years’ experience as a Christian minister  in both church and student ministry, and have been a speaker and preacher at national Christian conferences. I hold a post-graduate qualification in pastoral counselling. 

Tanya profile pic wall

 

My health:

  • In 2007, I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, a debilitating chronic autoimmune neurological disease, which affects my mobility and energy, and comes with a plethora of annoying symptoms. You can read more about it here.
2016 M.E. Action Protests for Better research and treatment

Sept 2016 – M.E. Action Protests for Better research and treatment

  • In 2010, my world changed when I gave birth and my M.E. tipped over into ‘severe M.E.’ Since then I have been housebound, needing to spend approximately 21 hours per day in bed, only able to leave the house once or twice a month for a brief trip out in my wheelchair. I now measure out my life in teaspoons. I need to rest much of the day, and have to strictly ration my time talking with friends, writing, or playing with my son.
  • In 2014 I was also diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which means my body does not enjoy being upright, and my heart goes crazy when I stand up.
  • Living with chronic illness has shaped and refined my theology, and made me passionate about justice for marginalised people. You can read more about my response to this in Why Thorns and Gold?

 

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My family:

  • I have an amazing husband who is a vicar (church minister) in the Church of England, and we live by the sea in Devon, UK. (NB the picture above is NOT Devon. It’s Greece…) He’s an artist, scholar, wine connoisseur, preacher-man and organiser of legendary kids’ parties. He blogs sporadically here.
  • We have a small-but-loud golden-haired son whose company we enjoy immensely. To protect him from future teenage friends googling his name and finding out all the cute things he did as a toddler, I refer to him online as ‘boy’.

tanya pic lounge

Wanna know even more about me? Click on my More About Me page for some fun facts.

But enough about me – what about you?  Please do introduce yourself, say, hi, interact and leave a comment, tell me your story – I’d love to hear it.

Wanna keep in touch? Please do! The best way is to subscribe to my blog (unsubscribe at any time). Just enter your email below and get your book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty, for FREE:

166 Responses to About Me

  1. Peter Eustance 22nd November, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Hi Tanya

    I read your blog on women bishops from a signpost on Andrew Evans blog on the same topic – (Andrew is Elder at the church I attend).

    I’m not posting re women bishops (thankfully!) but noticed your links re ME. I’ve had a fatigue illness since June this year which has been pretty incapacitating but the thing which has made the most massive difference is going on the Lightning Process. I’m sure that you will have had it mentioned. I was a bit sceptical at first but a friend of mine did it whose judgement I’d trust implicitly had done it so it reassured me of any scepticism/doubts. it has made a big difference – not only to my health and energy but also to how I think and the defeater beliefs we pick up which affect our Christian life.

    If any of your readers have heard of this treatment and are thinking of it then I’d definitely encourage them to bury and scepticism and go for it because it does help.

    Thanks for writing an interesting blog site.

    Peter

    • Tanya 22nd November, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      Hey there. Thanks so much for getting in touch! I really appreciate it.
      I know many others who have benefitted from the Lightning Process, some dramatically so, and it is particularly good where stress and negative thoughts are exacerbating the condition. However, the ME Association survey of treatments revealed that around 50% of people who did the Lightning Process did not improve, and some are made significantly worse by it, so it is not something to be recommended for everyone with ME. http://www.meassociation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/2010-survey-report-lo-res10.pdf

      I’m no medic, and I would definitely want any readers to consult the best research and best doctors they can before embarking on any kind of treatment, and this website doesn’t seek to advise anyone on treatment, though it is of course helpful to share things that might help.

      (hope that was diplomatic enough – these things are controversial!)

      I’m so pleased that your fatigue illness is improving. It’s just miserable to be so wiped and to not know why. Thanks for coming over via Andrew’s blog – I’m a big fan of his blog, and know him from student work, back in the day! Lovely to make your acquaintance – do pop back from time to time!

      • Peter Eustance 22nd November, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

        Thanks Tanya. I’ll read the link (or maybe not if it raises doubts for me!). I realise it may not be for everyone but it has helped. Totally agree though about feeling wiped and not knowing why. I noted your diplomacy – it’s sad it’s such a controversial area. I’m seeing Andrew tmw so will let him know I’m in touch.

        Regards

        Peter

        • Tanya 28th November, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

          Thanks, Peter! 🙂

  2. Jen 18th November, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Hi Tanya,
    thank you so much for this blog, God has blessed you with such gifts and you are using them to serve Him & others.
    Finding your blog today is an amazing gift from God to me. I’ve had ME for nearly 12 years and have just had 2 beautiful twin girls 3 months ago – what a huge learning curve!!! I’ve had a tough week as am coming down with a cold which scares me silly because I’m just about staying stable at the moment & the thought of a relapse just fills me with so much fear for my girls, my husband and me. I really struggle to trust God amidst it all & just want to be in control of everything! (I think he might be trying to teach me something, don’t you!?!). We’ve also had immunisations, an A&E trip with 1 of the girls, a number of falls and a scalding for me (I’m very accident prone with my ME – my body just doesn’t do what my brain asks it to!), and another run in with an unsympathetic & unhelpful GP, as well as trying to deal with the ongoing struggle with ME – phew!
    It’s so good to see from your list of ME related links that you don’t think it’s psychological. Again, a real provision from God as at the moment i’m really finding the lack of understanding and trivialisation of ME by so many, extremely painful & it’s so good to have God say, ‘not me, I know the truth’
    I feel like I could go on & on and I don’t want to do that, but just to say, thank you again and I Praise God for you. I will be an avid follower!
    xx Jen

    • Tanya 21st November, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      Hey there – I’m SO glad you found me! Thanks very much for saying hi – it’s good to hear of someone else who is going through M.E. and motherhood. In a way I envy you for having 2 at once, but in another way I’m completely daunted by your double whammy: twins is a challenge and M.E. is a challenge… To have them both is quite a combination!

      I think one of the hardest things about having M.E is that lack of understanding and compassion from many, especially the medical community. It can feel so abusive, and can prompt you to question yourself over and over, so fruitlessly. I am so heartened to hear that this blog is an encouragement. It means a lot.

      Please do stay in touch with the comments/Facebook etc – looking forward to getting to know you. Xx

      • Jen 22nd November, 2012 at 1:45 am #

        You’re so right about twins being a blessing and a challange – we didn’t know if we should or could have a baby at all, to have more than one seemed an impossibility given our circumstances – I can’t imagine how I could manage the demands of pregnancy whilst also caring for a little one. Plus I have reduced fertility (apparently!!!). In many ways it seemed unwise to consider having a family at all, and yet God turned our wisdom on it’s head & gave us twins!
        It is such hard work, physically as well as in every other way, and the fear of relapse is always there. It really seems crazy that God did this!
        And yet it is a blessing and provision in so many unexpected ways – two children when we thought we might have none; only one difficult and dangerous pregnancy and birth; the special relationship the girls will have with their dad & grandma because they are so much more involved in caring for them than they would be if I were well and had a singleton; the extra help and support we’ve received because nobody expects you to cope with twins without help! And so many more incredible ways that God has blessed and provided for us through what seemed to many to be utter foolishness!
        And yet it is overwhelming, and frightening and such hard work. And I know that my health may ultimately be damaged, but even in that God blesses us as we are forced to rely on him so much more than we are comfortable with, or want to. And He proves time and again to be trustworthy beyond that which my faithless heart could ever dare to believe.
        How kind is our Lord that He is teaching me hard lessons, not through grief or loss or deprivation, but through the amazing gift of two beautiful little girls?!
        oooooooh I want to go & squeeze them because they’re so scrummy, but I can’t because they’re sleeping & it would be mean!! 🙂 xx

        • Tanya 22nd November, 2012 at 10:33 am #

          Oh – I so know this feeling – of it being overwhelming but also such a miraculous privilege and blessing (and wanting to squeeze the scrummy babies!)

          We found things a lot less overwhelming when we got a nanny in for the mornings – it made a big difference. At the time it felt like a massive compromise and even failure on my part, but now I look back and cannot imagine what the problem was – it worked out so well. And my boy is no less devoted to his Mum and Dad, and he is happy and content and well-looked after.

          Praying that you manage the tightrope, and have support and safety nets when it all gets too much… Keep me posted! Xx

    • Kirsten 2nd March, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

      Hi Tanya

      What a good idea to collect women speakers. I noticed while searching there were a lot in America. I was look for good ideas and speakers for a women’s retreat at our church. Hence I found your blog.
      I am Church of England, but go to a Lutheran Church in Oslo Norway. I did have epilepsy for 32 years, but after an operation, nearly 20 years ago, I do not have it now. WIth a lot of prayer before and after there removed the damaged part of my brain.
      Now my life is transformed completely. I have two boys 17 and 11 and husband who works in the oil industry here in Oslo.

      • Tanya 11th March, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

        Kirsten – how lovely to meet you! I’m so glad you found your way to my blog. It’s amazing to hear that your epilepsy no longer affects you! I think this is perhaps the first time I have heard someone hear they were healed from epilepsy – so encouraging. I hope you find a wonderful speaker for your church retreat. I only know one other person in Norway, let alone any speakers, so I’m afraid I can’t recommend anyone local! Hope you find someone who really suits your congregation.

    • Pauline 5th March, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

      Hi tanya hope u got my message as new to this tecnology.i understand your anger over the dwp.they need get scroungers off p.i.p and help us genuine people.that live up drs and hospitals.people brag to us theyv got busspasses and go on holidays etc.hope dwp sort them out.my nieghbour thinks same as hes got hospital appts etc.we r the ones that suffer.

      • Tanya 12th October, 2016 at 10:17 am #

        Hi Pauline – Thanks so much for your message. There are so few ‘fakers’ out there (the DWP itself estimates less than 1% of claims are fraudulent) and yet that’s all we hear about isn’t it? The DWP system is definitely set up to discriminate against genuine claimants, and you have my sympathy that you aren’t getting the help you need. Thanks so much for coming by.

    • Trish 7th October, 2016 at 10:31 am #

      Hi
      My name is Trish and I have just signed up to your newsletter. I have heard about the event in Exeter on Sunday evening and am hoping to go along. I support my daughter who is now 19 and has been pretty housebound with ME for over 4 years now. I have also set up a support group for similar parents, originally with contacts from the OT, as there is so little support and understanding around.
      We meet monthly at my church.
      My Christian faith has been my anchor through this journey and I long to introduce others to God. The group seems to be very helpful as we share stories of battling for suitable education, battle for PIP awards and for pretty much everything else. Hard when just the caring is exhausting.
      Anyway, bless you for what you are doing and writing and for just who you are – a precious daughter of God.
      With Christian love x

      • Tanya 9th October, 2016 at 11:46 am #

        Hi Trish! Thank you so much for signing up to my newsletter – I really appreciate it. I do hope you’ll be able to go tonight to the Exeter event!

        I’m really sorry to hear your daughter is so badly affected by ME. I love what you’re doing in supporting other parents – that’s an amazing thing to do, because, as you say, there’s very little support around. Thanks so much for taking the time to encourage me.
        T

        • Trish 18th October, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

          Hi Tanya
          I did get to the Exeter event and managed to get a copy of the DVD so have just watched again. I must admit it was a little shocking first time round but is definitely needed to wake people up to just how serious ME is. Unless you have experienced it yourself or are caring for a sufferer it is a very hard disease to understand – and even now I don’t really understand it. I am so sorry that you were so badly affected as a result of GET and then childbirth, but thankful for your honesty about the affect on your faith and your relationship with God. For me it is that hope of an eternal life with no more suffering, tears or pain, that I have to hold onto, and day-by-day it is knowing that I have the opportunity to try to introduce others to Christ that I would otherwise not have met.
          My heart breaks for my daughter though, who remains remarkably positive despite the ‘smallness’ of her current life.
          Thank you and bless you

          • Tanya 6th November, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

            Dear Trish, thank you so much for taking the time to write this. It is so hard, I think, for those who love and care for the sick – because you see the pain but are powerless to intervene. I love the ways you are finding gold in your situation. Praying for you and your daughter today

  3. Mark Allman 3rd November, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Hi Tanya,
    You are the first writer that has asked that their readers introduce themselves. I like that idea. If I ever blog I will do the same. I am a civil engineer (VA Tech) and I currently work for a company in its environmental department. I live in a rural town in Virginia USA. My wife Dreama and I have three children: Jessi who teaches math in middle school; a son Levi who is in school to pursue something in the medical field, and our youngest Esther is in school as well to become a science teacher. I love to read; love science fiction, love sports. I taught my kids skills to play sports and they all excelled. I enjoy carpentry work as well. My favorite authors would be James Rollins, Steve Berry, Michael Crichton, and Margaret Weis. I do enjoy reading history as well.

    I enjoy reading your insightful wisdom.

    A couple of my most favorite quotes are:

    “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Kahil Gabran

    “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things.” Bruce Barton

    • Tanya 5th November, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      Thank you so much for this, mark! It is really nice to get to know you a little better. Your family sound really sciencey – respect! My husband trained as an engineer back in the day, and I really appreciate the logic and sensible-ness of his decision-making ability! Thanks for taking the time to tell me more about yourself.

  4. Liz Eph 26th October, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Hiya Tanya, a friend Joanna in Latvia recommenced me to come and have a looksy here. i’m looking forward to following your blog. our ME journey has been on the go since 1996. but through it all God has been absolutely utterly 100% faithful. xx Liz xx

    • Tanya 29th October, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      Thanks so much for stopping by and saying hello! I really appreciate it – it’s great to know that there are others out there on a similar journey. Much love!

  5. Peggy 21st September, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Tanya,

    While I do not have an autoimmune disorder, I am in year 17 of chronic exhaustion (from having three enormous sons at the ages of 39, 42 & 45 and a string of fluke-yet-awful accidents which began just after I got pregnant with our third son). The amazing thing was that God gave me my pastoral ministry when I was my weakest physically — because my brain was still working, even if my body couldn’t cope with much.

    I pray for you with your precious son — I know intimately the challenges and heartaches of a mother with a busy son … and not being able to be the strong mother most women take for granted. When my second son was 17 months old, the first accident robbed him of his mother being able to pick him up — ever again. He had to learn to climb up on my lap to snuggle. And when that precious third son was born, I could not carry him after he was nine months old. He learned to crawl up in my lap to be nursed (something we did until he was three — because it was one of the things I could do!).

    This is all part of what I have come to call the Purple Martyrdom — and it, along with a hodgepodge of other topics, is what I blog about … when I have energy. I have come to recognize when I have something to say when I actually have the energy to say it!

    Be blessed in each moment — truly there are millions of us broken-down mothers out here in the virtual realm … whom God has seen fit to connect through the Spirit and the internet.

    • Tanya 21st September, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your story. Your situation sounds really hard. And yet I am struck by how much your sons have adapted, and how mine adapts too. It’s okay once you’ve managed to work a way round, but sometimes the way round is very hard to see!

      Lovely to meet you 🙂

  6. Kim 19th September, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    So glad to find you and your words, Tanya. I’ve been bouncing around reading a bit between my classes. I like demanding…and rewarding. So, we should get along great!

    • Tanya 19th September, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Hurrah! Thanks for finding me!

  7. Jill Richardson 27th August, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Hi Tanya, Good to meet you, and thanks for your comment on my blog. We sound like we’ve taken a similar career path–from studying literature to theology to mom. God bless your time with your little guy, and prayers for your ability to have the energy to keep up with him. By the way, my daughter just came home from studying at Oxford for the summer. She adores your country.

    • Tanya 28th August, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      So lovely to meet you on here! Thanks for stopping by. – I loved your post. It’s cool to meet someone who has been on a similar journey – I look forward to getting to know you more!

  8. ed cyzewski 1st June, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Hi Tanya. I found you via Twitter and just read your about page to find out what M.E. is. Can you drop me an e-mail about the women in ministry series? I suspect that you have a story to tell…
    http://inamirrordimly.com/the-women-in-ministry-series-home-page/

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